May 02, 2009

Pipers clinch second straight MIAC playoff berth in split

With the split, the Pipers have ensured themselves of post-season play for the second straight year and for the third time in four seasons. Their seed, either #3 or #4, will be determined once the rest of the conference has finished their regular season play at the beginning of next week.

Despite an early lead and then a late-game surge after getting behind by four runs, the Pipers dropped the opening game of the double-header, 8-7.

They opened the game with a five-hit, three-run first inning. Tres Humerickhouse (So., Farmington, Minn.) and J.D. Modrynski (So., Lakeville, Minn.) each had an RBI double while Bill Sand (Sr., White Bear Township, Minn.) drove in a run on a ground out and Andy King (Fy., Fort Myers, Fla.) had an RBI single.

Saint John’s answered in the second inning with a pair of RBI-singles and a double that also drove in a run, cutting Hamline’s lead to one run.

The next inning and a half of scoreless ball led to a five-run frame on four hits – all singles – for the Johnnies in the bottom of the fourth, giving them an 8-4 lead. Matt Butorac (So., Maple Grove, Minn.) and Mike Krempa (Sr., Burnsville, Minn.) each had a two-RBI single in the inning.

Saint John’s held onto that 8-4 lead until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Pipers battled to score three runs to cut the lead to one. King hit a sacrifice fly with one out to score Humerickhouse, cutting the Johnnies’ advantage to three runs. Daniel Zurbey (Fy., New Brighton, Minn.) then hit a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single to score Modrynski. The Pipers scored their last run of the inning, and ultimately the game, on an RBI single by Dan Kaczrowski (Sr., St. Anthony, Minn.).

Hamline’s attempts to tied the game in the seventh inning were thwarted as they were forced into a pair of ground outs and a fly out to end the game.

Modrynski went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI while Kaczrowski was 2-for-4 with an RBI on his old high school field. Humerickhouse was 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

For Saint John’s in the opener, Butorac and Krempa were both 1-for-4 two RBI. Joe Eiden (Jr., Maple Grove, Minn.) was 2-for-3 at the plate a run scored and an RBI.

Alex Wahl (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) earned the win on the mound for the Johnnies despite giving up all ten Piper hits. He struck out two batters and walked two. Brett Bugielski (Fy., River Falls, Wis.) took the loss for Hamline, giving up seven hits and three walks while striking out three Johnnies.

In the second game, Hamline once again jumped on the scoreboard early, tallying three runs in the opening inning. Kaczrowski opened the game with a lead-off single and then stole second, upping his stolen base streak to 27 – a streak that is in the top ten in NCAA baseball.

Lincoln Hughes (Jr., Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) earned the RBI on a single that scored Kaczrowski. Sand and Modrynski also had an RBI in the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Cory Miller (Fy., Coon Rapids, Minn.) led off with a chopper to right field to get on base. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second and he reached third on a ground out. Tony Rogers (So, St. Michael, Minn.) then duplicated the lead-off chopper to bring Miller home for the 4-0 lead.

Saint John’s put a run on the board in the top of the third inning as the runner at third scored on a throwing error.

In the third inning, Modrynski knocked in two runs with a single that stayed fair by inches down the left field line, upping the score to 6-1 for the Pipers. Andy Powell (So., Minneapolis, Minn.) then drove in another run with a single and Kaczrowski added an RBI on a sacrifice fly for the 8-1 advantage.

In the top of the fourth, the Johnnies added another two runs to their total on a pair of hits, and the score remained 8-3 in favor of the Pipers until the bottom of the sixth inning.

That was when Sand came to the plate with the bases empty and two outs in his final at-bat of the regular season in his senior season. He tallied his first homerun of his career by sending a pitch over the right field fence to put the Pipers up by six runs. That was followed by a run from Modrynski on a Johnnies’ throwing error and an RBI double from Miller, making the final score 11-3.

The Pipers totaled their 11 runs on 13 hits in the game.

Sand was 3-for-3 in the closing game of the twinbill with two RBI and two runs scored. Kaczrowski finished the day by going 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in the second game, while Modrynski was 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored.

Additionally, Miller was 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Matt Mullendore (So., Amery, Wis.) threw a complete game, ten-strikeout performance in earning the win and moved to 6-3 on the mound for the Pipers this season. He scattered seven hits in the game and walked just three batters.

Hamline finishes the regular season with a record of 21-17, 12-8 MIAC. The Johnnies finish the season at 12-20, 7-13 MIAC.

The MIAC tournament will be played Friday, May 8 - Sunday, May 9 at Dundas and Northfield. Hamline's first game will be at 3:30 on Friday against either St. Thomas or St. Olaf. They will then play again that night at 7:00 p.m.